How to plan a honeymoon #firstworldproblems

Don’t spend most of an afternoon gathering intermediate stops from Eurovelo route 15’s website, then mapping your proposed ride on Google Maps to compile distance data like this:

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Some thoughts on e-voting

This post is inspired by my taking part in the Open Rights Group (Scotland)‘s e-voting round-table in February, and the Scottish Government’s Online Identity Assurance ‘show and tell’ in March, and by a seminar by Professor Brian Detlor last week. (My notes from the ORG’s round-table should be available on the Open Government Network website. I’ve also posted them on this blog.) In this post, I assume that e-voting would be run on central servers, but votes would be cast via software running on personal phones, tablets and computers. Continue reading

Some thoughts on a seminar by Professor Brian Detlor

I had the privilege of attending two seminars by Professor Brian Detlor last week. The first of these, at iDocQ 2018, recounted Brian’s work on Digital Storytelling. However, this post is about my reaction to his seminar to the School of Computing on Promoting Digital Literacy: A Social Lab Approach.

This post is the first of two – the second will be an attempt to crystallise my thoughts about e-voting that bubbled up after Brian’s seminar. However, for now, this post is an attempt to show why Brian’s seminar was such a positive experience for me, but it is not an attempt to record all that Brian said. My reactions are in blockquotes. Continue reading

CrowdJustice appeal for the Royal High School inquiry

(reblogged from New Town and Broughton Community Council website)

As many will be acutely aware, despite the many public objections to the proposal, the battle to save Edinburgh’s iconic Old Royal High School has not yet been won. The developer behind the plan to turn the Old Royal High School into a luxury hotel has refused to accept the unanimous decision of -elected members of Edinburgh Council, with the result that we are forced to engage in a lengthy and expensive process as we go through the appeal process.

The matter is now to be decided by Scottish Ministers at a Public Inquiry – which results in significant legal costs for those objecting to the hotel. Continue reading

Online identity assurance programme: Scottish Government ‘show & tell’ (28 March 2018) #identityassurance @digitalscots

This post is my digital record of the Scottish Government’s Online Identity Assurance (OLA) ‘show and tell’. The day was very informative, and provided me the opportunity to catch up with friends in civil society circles. I’m especially interested because online identity is a natural precursor to online voting, another problematic area that greatly interests me.

The post starts with a recap of what was said at the event, then notes my input at the event. Next are my reactions to the event itself, followed by my thoughts on the whole OLA programme. In summary, while I think OLA is very worthwhile, and that the Scottish Government is trying to do it the right way, I have a lot of reservations about how useful it will be for those who most need government support. Continue reading

A not-so-brief history of Personal Independence Payments

Here is a saga of my sister’s application for Personal Independence Payments. She applied for this state benefit in June 2017, yet 10 months later there is no sign of her receiving it.

My sister’s network includes my ever-wonderful wife. Her help has included direct support of my sister, and of our mother who has very severe issues of her own. My brother and his wife are also very supportive of our sister and mother, especially providing on-the-spot support, while I concentrate on the bureaucracy. They all live fairly close, but my wife and I live over 300 miles from them.

While I feel more about my sister’s case than about any other, she has possibly one of the most fortunate cases. I am deeply concerned for others who do not have such a strong support network.

The major issues we’ve faced are, in rough chronological order: Continue reading

My wallet is bulging – with paper receipts

I prefer to pay for nearly everything using my debit card. (The exceptions are the snack vending machines at work, because they talk back to lusers with an annoying Sirius Cybernetics voice. I prefer to receive receipts, and keep them to check that the entries on my bank statements are believable. However, this means my wallet tends to bulge with valueless pieces of paper.

It struck me tonight that this is a huge waste of resources too: paper, printing ink, electricity, whatever the printer is made of, people’s time putting rolls of till receipt into machines (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt with the image of trapped fingers) and so on. And there is no need for any of this! Continue reading